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Nov 292016
Lamb Chelo Kebab

Thinking about Persian food brings to mind the dazzling sabzi khordan, array of kebabs, magnificent naans & pilafs and also the saffron, pistachios, rose petals & rose water, preserved limes and barberries. I grew up in a house where Persian was just as common a language as Urdu, Kashmiri and English. Persian poetry couplets were interspersed into everyday talking and it was just a normal way of having a conversation. The Persian influence in Kashmir is not limited to arts, architecture and language. It also has been a huge influence on the food in the valley of Kashmir.

Lamb Chelo Kebab

This could very well become an interesting article on History and how food evolves. But that is a discussion for another day. Today I just want to dig into the  lamb chelo kebab I made for Progressive eats. The reason I chose the lamb chelo kebab is because we are doing a Middle Eastern/ Moroccan Menu for our Progressive Eats dinner this month and nothing makes me happier than a plate of Persian food.

Lamb Chelo Kebab

The best thing to eat from this plate of food is the rice. Glistening with melted butter, salted to perfection and cooked till all grains were separate. The magic is in the rice. The kebab is just incidental. Having said that, here are some tips to make sure your kebabs turn out moist and juicy and don’t fall off the skewers.

Tips for a Good Kebab made with ground meat:

  1. Use fresh meat, never frozen.
  2. Make sure to wash the meat before it is ground and never wash ground meat.
  3. When making skewers, Make sure the  thickness of the meat mixture  around the skewer is even.
  4. Never allow one side of the skewer to cook completely before turning, it will make the uncooked side fall from the skewer. So keep turning the skewers in the order you put them on the grill.
  5. For ground meat kebabs, you want to grill them in such a way that the meat doesn’t touch the surface of the grill. You can easily do this by placing two heavy metal rods on the surface of the grill for the top and the bottom of the skewers to rest on.
  6. It’s ideal to cook these on a coal grill  for maximum flavor.

Lamb Chelo Kebab

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re sharing a Middle Eastern/Moroccan Menu, and our event is hosted by Susan, who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian.  We have a full menu of ideas to tempt you into the kitchen and release your inner-Ottolenghi. If you’re looking for something new to try, check out these wonderfully creative dishes!

Progressive Eats Middle Eastern/Moroccan Menu



Main Dishes


Side Dish


If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

Lamb Chelo Kebab

Lamb Chelo Kebab


    for Rice
  • 2 C White Long Grain Rice
  • Water to boil rice in
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C Salted Butter (preferably European)
  • For Kebab
  • 2 medium onions ( about 400gms)
  • 1.5 pounds ground lamb
  • a pinch of saffron
  • Salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • Urfa chillies - ( optional) to taste
  • Turmeric - a pinch


  1. Rinse the rice until water runs clear. Soak covered with water for about 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the salt and add the rice.
  3. Cook until rice is almost done but not soft. Drain and rinse with tap water to sop further cooking.
  4. Add a little butter into a pot, pile up the rice into a cone shape on the butter. Make some holes with the back of your spatula and add butter into these holes. Cover and cook on diffused low heat for about 30 minutes.
  5. Kebab
  6. Make a puree out of the onions and strain out the juice.
  7. Take a tsp or two of the onion juice, add the saffron into it to dissolve.
  8. Take the pulp of onions and add to the ground lamb, add the saffron , salt, pepper, urfa chillies if using and turmeric.
  9. Mix and knead with your fingers until it all sticks together and does not fall apart when you pick it up in your hand.
  10. Take a handful of this mixture and place your metal skewer on it, then start spreading the meat on the middle section of the skewer by opening and closing your fingers to stick the mixture securely to the skewer.
  11. Leave a few inches from the top and bottom for grilling.
  12. Make sure the thickness of the meat mixture around the skewer is even.
  13. Place the kebabs on a baking tray with raised sides so that the skewers can rest on it without the meat touching the tray.
  14. Cook on a grill until done.
  15. I baked mine in a 550*F oven for about 3- 4 minutes each side.
  16. Serve with a Persian salad, some grilled tomatoes and the Chelo rice.

Jul 202013

Har kas ki dad tan ba bala iman az ballast
Viran kuja zi mauj shavad khana-i-hubab ― Ghani Kashmiri

 (He who plunged into difficulties is free from difficulties,  How can the house of a bubble be smashed by a wave)

His full name was Ghani Kashmiri Mirza Muhammad Tahir, a Kashmiri Poet who was acknowledged in Iran as a great master of Persian Poetry.  Persian was the language of the court in Kashmir in the 14th century. The Persian language is till date learned, mastered and spoken in Kashmir.

I grew up listening to Farsi (Persian) poetry with my grandfather. He would recite a couplet in Persian and challenge us ( me and my siblings) to explain its meaning. At that time, we all thought it was a fun game and Grandpa was trying to make us learn a language. It’s only now that I understand the true meaning of the deep poetry he made us a part of and I wish I had paid more attention.

The Kashmir connection to Persia doesn’t stop at the language. There is something else that connects us – the food. Herbs and spices – especially Saffron. So when I found this incredible dish of stewed mushrooms and chicken in liquid saffron, I could see the saffron fields of Pampore and Avanitpora in my mind. I was transported back home in a thought.

I just had to make the Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms  or  Khoresht-e gharch.  Just had to!  This recipe is heavily adapted from New Persian Cooking  by Jila Dana-Haeri  &  Shahrzad Ghorashian.  It is a book you must have on your cookbook shelf.

Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms


Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms – Khoresht-e gharch

Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms – Khoresht-e gharch


  • Juice of 1 Large lemon ( about 4 Tbs)
  • 6 -8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed and washed and patted dry ( you can use breast/ thigh also)
  • salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound white mushrooms
  • 1tbs butter
  • 3 tbs oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 3 C Finely chopped onions


    Make Liquid saffron
  1. Heat about 4 - 5 tbs water. Put saffron in a small jar, add in the water, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Make the dish
  3. Put the chicken in a bowl, and add 2 tbs lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix it in and let it stand.
  4. Wash and pat dry the mushrooms, slice them and keep aside.
  5. Heat half of the butter and oil and fry the onions in. Once the onions begin to brown, add in the chicken reserving any lemon juice in the bowl in which it was marinated.
  6. Add in the turmeric and mix and let it cook until chicken is golden on all sides. Now add in 2- 3 tbs of the liquid saffron, the reserved lemon juice and the stock/ water.
  7. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.
  8. Take the remaining butter and oil in a wide pan and saute mushrooms in it.
  9. Cook the mushroom in batches.. there should be absolutely no water coming out of the mushrooms. Take care to not over cook them however. The idea is to have super crunchy sauteed mushrooms.
  10. Once the chicken is done and the gravy looks thick, add in the sauteed mushrooms, the remaining liquid saffron, the remaining lemon juice. Stir to coat the chicken and now add the puree. Mix everything and let it all cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with a saffron rice.


This recipe works best with wild mushrooms, but white mushrooms tasted great as well.

Feb 032013

I have been missing home, a lot, lately. That is one of the reasons why you are and will be seeing a lot of bread / Naan/ Indian bread related posts on Spiceroots. There is something in those not so distant mountains that I see from my kitchen window that speaks of home to me. Its almost hypnotic. How they change from the time the first rays of sun touch them to the time the sun hides behind them almost feels like a conversation. I do feel very blessed to live in Colorado. It feels like home and yet makes me miss home. Ironic. I know.

I chanced upon this bread in the latest issue of Food and Wine and immediately knew I will make it soon. I leafed through the magazine to get my daily dose of food porn, but I kept coming back to the pictures of this bread.

There was an instant connection, almost a pull. Something about the bread was familiar. When I read the recipe, I knew what the connection was. The Bread uses a roomal – mixture of flour, water , oil & sugar for that exquisite color and texture. And that is what the local Kandur ( bread maker) in Kashmir uses when he is making the special breads with rogan – very similar to roomal.

 So I kept the magazine down and set to work. This bread had to be made and made immediately. The whole process of making this bread was nostalgic. And I am glad to say the Nan-e-Barbari has reached the coveted place of “myfavorite bread” in Miss S’s books! That is no mean feat!


This bread is also heading over to Yeast Spotting.

Nan-e-Barbari – Persian Bread

Serves: 2 breads

Nan-e-Barbari – Persian Bread

Recipe slightly adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.


    To make the dough
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour Plus some more for kneading
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • To make the Roomal
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Final touches:
  • 1 tbs Nigella seeds (optional )
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds (optional)
  • some extras:
  • 1tsp oil


  1. Add the yeast to water and let it bubble up.. about 5 minutes
  2. Mix the salt into the 4 cups of flour and add to the yeast mix.
  3. Knead to a very smooth dough ( 6 - 7 minutes in a stand mixer) ( If kneading by hand - knead until your dough can stand the window pane test ; If the dough is a little sticky, apply flour to your hands and keep kneading... )
  4. Oil a bowl and put the dough in it, cover and let it rise for an hour, until double in volume.
  5. Next punch the dough down and divide into two parts. cover and let it rise again.
  6. While the dough is rising this time, make the roomal.
  7. Combine the flour, oil , sugar, with half a cup of water and mix it all in and cook it on low heat until it thickens. cover and let it cool.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450*F.
  9. Working each part of the dough separately, shape the dough into a rectangle and put it on a well oiled baking sheet.
  10. Make the ridges in the shaped dough, apply half of the roomal paste, sprinkle half of the sesame, nigella on it and bake for 15- 18 minutes.
  11. Repeat wit the second part of the dough!


Dec 102011

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